Lincoln, Neb.- The Nebraska football team continued its preparation for Saturday’s Big Ten conference opener against Illinois on Tuesday afternoon. The team practiced in full pads for just over two hours inside the Hawks Center and outside at the Ed and Joyanne Gass Practice Fields.
Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck addressed the media after practice, beginning with the status of senior quarterback Taylor Martinez.
“We’re just getting (Taylor Martinez) ready mentally right now by making sure he understands the game plan,” Beck said. “He’s played a lot of football around here. If there’s a guy who could miss a couple of practices, it’s probably him, but it’s a day-to-day situation.”
Martinez, suffering from turf toe, sat out the Sept. 21 game against South Dakota State, snapping a 32-game starting streak that dated back to his redshirt freshman season in 2010.
However, Coach Beck made it clear that he has confidence in backup quarterbacks Ron Kellogg and Tommy Armstrong to get the job done if needed on Saturday.
“Those guys are competing hard and having a really good week of practice,” Beck said. “I like how they’re running the offense and competing. It’s very similar to what they were doing leading up to the last game.”
Kellogg and Armstrong combined for 305 yards passing and two touchdowns in Nebraska’s 59-20 victory over South Dakota State. The two quarterbacks alternated series in that game, which is something Beck said he isn’t opposed to doing again.
“I kind of play it by ear as we go into a game,” Beck said. “I like to see if someone’s got a hot hand or is seeing things better. There are so many scenarios that go into the decisions that are made, and those guys understand that. But they’ll both play if it helps us win.”
A large part of the two quarterbacks’ success has been a focus on the mental aspect of the game. Kellogg and Armstrong combined to complete 20 of 24 passes without an interception against the Jackrabbits, helping the Huskers convert seven of 10 third down opportunities.
According to Beck, that’s the recipe for success.
“Most teams that are winning games aren’t turning the ball over,” Beck said. “They’re converting on third downs and they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. You are going to win more games than you lose if you’re doing that. I liked our mentality going into last game and I like where we’re at right now.”
Nebraska will hit the practice field again on Wednesday as the team moves closer to its fifth game of the season. NU will face the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.